Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Refocused (maybe)

Last month, I felt fuzzy and unfocused. 

I spent a lot of time working on powerpoint. 

And a lot of time trying to escape.

Now that those projects are completed and we are back at school, I am finally feeling some relief.

Remember how I’ve often mentioned that I am like a small child and need routine?

This summer went by so fast.  We didn’t have the scorching heat of last summer.  These recent days of high heat are made tolerable by the cool nights of late August.

The return of routine has seemed to bring back my focus.

I worked on a couple of projects that I have been putting off for a while.  I have a closet upstairs that holds extra blankets and other crap.  When I opened the door, I would be attacked by a rogue sleeping bag.  I finally organized it.

I baked sandwich bread!  And it worked!

I returned some emails that have been lingering in my personal inbox for weeks. 

I made 24 burritos for our freezer.  Do you ever feel guilty eating food that you have prepped ahead of time and put in the freezer?  Sometimes I do.  I have to remind myself that I made it to eat and make life easier.  It is ok if the burritos are gone in a week.  And they probably will be with Billy.

I registered for my first official half marathon.  I have managed 13.1 a couple of times, but this will be an official timed race.  It is in the park that I normally take my long runs in, so I know where all of the poop rooms are in advance.  That’s important.  I had no idea how important until this summer…don’t judge…

I’m looking at the calendar for September, and it is full of activity.  I’m not feeling overwhelmed by that (yet) and hoping that it doesn’t send me back into escape mode.

Today I am glad to sit in the girls’ room while they read and enjoy the peace.  And routine.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Desperate Prayers

Months ago, I read a quote about life’s struggles helping you appreciate the good times.  I thought that if I had read that quote during a challenging time, I probably would have been a little (or a lot) angry, with my response being, yeah, right.

But this isn’t one of those times for me where life is full of day to day challenges (thankfully).  So I am able to reflect on the past and agree with the words in the quote.  My truth is that if I hadn’t been through survival mode, I probably wouldn’t appreciate the life I have right now.  Sure, I would be happy, but I wouldn’t have the sense of reflection that I do now.  And these days, when I am able to enjoy my family, may not seem as sweet without the memory of working seven days a week.

I realize that many people are experiencing a world full of day to day challenges.  They would read a quote like that and become even more defeated (or angry).  When you are in the middle of a struggle and can’t see a way out, words like that simply don’t provide comfort.  They are only words.

And I’m not just talking about folks from my professional world.  I’m talking about everyone.  I might be talking about you.

Struggle can mean lots of things.  Finances.  Relationships. Health.  Loss.  And more.

Your world might be full of heart hurts and pain.

You might feel stuck.

You might not see the end to this struggle.  The struggle that you thought would only last for a season has lasted for years.

In the dark of night, when everyone around you seems to be sleeping peacefully, you are awake with worry.  Your prayers are desperate.  Sometimes you can only pray, help.

To you, the world seems to be full of people who have it together.  People who have a better set of circumstances.  People who have never been through the struggle.

Maybe you will never be grateful for the struggle.  Maybe you will never be the same person you were before the struggle.  Maybe you will never feel like you can be completely healed.

Those may be your truths.

There are so many things I would like to write, words of comfort that could encourage you through this time of desperate prayers.

But they would only be words.

I can’t possibly know your struggle.  I can’t fix things for you.  I can’t tell you that everything will be ok.  Because everything might not be ok.

Instead, I want you to know that I am thinking of you.  When I am on a long run and clearing my head, I think about all of you with desperate prayers.  At the end of a good day, when I am feeling grateful for my life, I think of you.  At the end of a bad day, when I am feeling low, I know that my struggles are small compared to yours. 

I pray that you are blessed with what you need to make it through your struggle.

It doesn’t seem like enough.  It never does. 

But my heart is still with you.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Next Thing

After my days of survival mode, I thought I needed fill my days with activity.  A voice in my heart told me to be still.

I needed to hear that message.  I needed to be still.

I was tired.  My days had been full of activity but nothing ever seemed to get accomplished.  I was going from a zombie-like state from work, to housework, to the other job, to being a mom. 

I needed to be still.

In being still, I’ve been able to find out a bit more about who I am.  There has been peace in the stillness.

Lately, I’ve been hearing another message on my heart.  Enjoy where you are.

When I was in survival mode or during times of struggling with finances, I would often look at others’ lives and think, I want what they have.  And that meant a lot of different things-I want their house, I want their relationship with their kids, I want their job, the list could go on and on.

I was always scheming for the next thing.  A better house, a better job, a better plan, a better life.  I was forgetting the present.  The life around me.  The life I actually had.  The truth.

In this past year of being still, I have noticed that things aren’t always what they seem.  I knew this, of course, deep down, but when you are desperate, you cling to notions of truth, not actual truth.  You cling to illusions of how life is for other people. 

My eyes have come to see what my heart knew.  The life I thought others’ had wasn’t actually the life that they had.

There was often pain behind the door.  Or heartache.  Or struggle.

So all of my scheming for the next thing was for nothing.  It was a distraction. 

Let me give you an example of this.  I used to constantly look at houses for sale or rent.  Our next place.  The truth is that I enjoy our little home.  Would it be nice to have more space at times or a yard?  Sure.  That doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of our house.

I’m certainly not saying that it’s bad to have goals or dreams.  But my obsession over the next… was taking away from what I love about my life.

Here I am now, enjoying where I am.  And sometimes, it’s hard to enjoy.  There are still times of struggle or heartache.  The difference is that I’m no longer looking for the next thing to distract me from life.  I will be still.  I will enjoy where I am.  Even if the moment or season is challenging.  I will stay awake.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Long Road to Wisdom

A week ago when I was tucking in the ladies, Lucy wanted to have a deep conversation.  Of course she did, this is Lucy.  The child who is always inspiring me to be a better person.

Lucy wanted to talk about how God gives everyone special talents.  She was reflecting on the talents that we discover over time.  She said, It’s just life.  Being older, you get good at things.

I think about all of the times that I have struggled with that false notion of perfection.  Expecting that in myself.  Thinking that I should have life figured out and my every action should be a reflection of that life. 

And here comes this little lady to remind me about grace.  With age comes certain talents.  There is no perfection.

Surprisingly, it is my birthday, and I haven’t been feeling the melancholy that typically surrounds it.  I have been thinking about Lucy’s words, letting them roll around in my brain for the past week.

At first, I thought, what things have I gotten good at in the past year?  I was stumped.  I mean, I think I’ve gotten better with a hot glue gun over the past year, but that seems a bit trivial.

I realized that it’s not being good at things, maybe I’m more interested in the wisdom that I have gained in the past year.

What has that wisdom looked like in this past year? 

When I entered my 30s, my Sister Runner raved about the benefits of exercising in your 30s.  She was right.  But now I am imparting some wisdom to her about the benefits of eating healthy.  I am determined to eat my 4.5 cups of produce every day.  And my body thanks me.  Although, I still really don’t enjoy eating healthy…this is similar to my thoughts on running. 
This job of mine is soul draining.  And while it is important work that I enjoy, I have learned that I need to take care of myself in order to do it well.

Speaking of this business of helping people, I have learned a lot about the value of relationships.  I am resisting my urge to fix things.  Trying to learn someone’s story and simply be with them.  And I have been having some powerful conversations with colleagues about this epiphany.  A simple concept but one that often gets lost in the old way of doing things or even among old assumptions and judgments that we make about folks.

I have learned more about the person that I want to be.  Encouraging, brave, awake.  And so much more.  And I’ve taken some steps to be that person.  I have worked through some fear.  I have taken some risks.

And here I am today on my birthday.  An age that I have been kind of fearing.  Something intense about the number.  Maybe because it’s two odd numbers.  But I am blessed to reach this age.  And reach it in good health with friends and family.  And that is probably the most important wisdom I have gained this year.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Hard Place

I am still immersed in that heart hurt area of parenting called bullying. 

I am exhausted.  This has been going on for a year now.  And the thing about bullying is that it is a roller coaster.  It isn’t simply all lows.  That might be easier.  That might be more concrete to show my ladies that this is a bad situation.  Instead, a false branch of kindness is often extended to my ladies.  This builds their hope.  And often ends in heartache.

I am confused.  Am I doing the right thing?  Am I balancing enough of letting them figure it out with providing ground rules and guidance?  I know better.  I know there is no right thing.  Yet doubt still creeps in.

At times, I am full of worry.  When around the bully, the ladies forget who they are.  Yesterday my kind hearted Lucy left out another child that she was playing with to accept that false branch from the bully.  It broke my heart to watch this child on the fringes, just waiting for a friend.  Mostly because I’ve seen my own kids on that fringe, with my heart just wanting so badly for a friend.  My brave Katy, with her concrete sense of fairness, is easily swayed by the bully.  Often to side against her own sister, causing more heartache at home.

I wonder if I am taking this too seriously.  If I should just let kids be kids.  And then I go to work and see adults who never had anyone show them as a kid what it means to be loved, what kindness or respect is.  Kids don’t just figure it out.  They see the world around them, they interpret their experiences as the only way.

I can’t simply stand back while my ladies think friendship is full of conditions, drama and pain.  At the same time, I can’t make their decisions for them.

And so this is where I am right now.  Seeking wisdom.  Needing to let go of this worry.  Hoping that my kids will have the courage to be who they are.